May 22, 2024

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Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers 2023 punch above their weight in workplace best practices

16 min read
Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers 2023 punch above their weight in workplace best practices

It’s been a remarkable year for the job creators that are the winners of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers (SMEs) 2023 by Mediacorp. After weathering the challenges of the pandemic, not only are they still standing, but many have experienced significant growth.

For example, Purpose Unlimited in Toronto and Redbrick Technologies in Victoria both had year-over-year workforce increases of 40 per cent, while Tatham Engineering in Collingwood, Ont. and Edmonton-based Translational Research In Oncology recorded increases of over 30 per cent. That’s key, as SMEs account for the largest proportion of the labour force in Canada.

Flexibility in allowing individuals to manage their own time continues to be a trend. Many winning companies consulted employees during the pandemic through surveys and by simply listening to how workers wanted to return. That has evolved into some form of a hybrid work model for most, reflecting an overwhelming desire by employees to continue working from home, at least part of the week.

Perhaps that also indicates a new level of communication between employers and employees that began developing during the pandemic, as CEOs joined in virtual cooking classes or yoga with their staff and held town halls where every question was welcomed. The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement was another watershed moment that increased awareness of the roadblocks individuals face and the need to support diversity.

Mental health also came to light over the past few years, resulting in new mental health programs added to health benefits plans. For instance, Thinkific Labs in Vancouver maintains a mental wellness in the workplace strategy and recently increased its annual coverage for mental health services to $3,000. Additionally, the company hosts guided meditation sessions as well as company-wide wellness challenges.

As the standard bearers of workplace best practices, this year’s winners have not disappointed in pushing the boundaries. Increasingly, there is open-ended time off, such as Waterloo, Ont.-based Auvik Networks’ unlimited paid vacation program for all employees. There’s also a move towards generous volunteering policies, with companies like Uken in Toronto encouraging employees to actively participate in their local community with up to four paid days off to volunteer.

Is this the future? Let’s see who follows.

METHODOLOGY 2023

Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers 2023 by Mediacorp is an editorial competition that recognizes exceptional small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across Canada. To determine eligibility, the Mediacorp editors adopted the SME definition used by Statistics Canada, limiting the competition to private-sector commercial organizations with under 500 employees. Non-profit organizations are not eligible.

Employers are evaluated by the editors of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers using the same eight criteria as the national Canada’s Top 100 Employers competition: (1) Physical Workplace; (2) Work Atmosphere & Social; (3) Health, Financial & Family Benefits; (4) Vacation & Time Off; (5) Employee Communications; (6) Performance Management; (7) Training & Skills Development; and (8) Community Involvement.

Mediacorp’s editors compare employers to other organizations in their field to determine which ones offer the best workplaces and forward-thinking human resource policies. Whether an employer has positive employment growth is also a factor in determining the winners. As well, the unique initiatives of each employer are taken into account.

While the selection process to choose the winners continually evolves to include new questions that reflect changes in the workplace, the underlying methodology has not significantly changed since the project began in 2000. The competition is and remains a catalogue of best practices.

Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers by Mediacorp is an annual national competition and all applicants must pay a fee to enter. Employers must have their head office or principal place of business in Canada to apply. The Globe and Mail is not involved in the judging process.

Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers 2023

Absorb Software Inc., Calgary. Learning management systems; 283 employees. Offers new employee referral bonuses when employees help successfully recruit new employees, from $1,500 to $3,000 depending on the position.

Alida Inc., Vancouver. Customer intelligence software; 290 employees. Adopted a formal and permanent hybrid work program that includes a work-from-home spending account to help employees offset eligible expenses.

Andgo Systems, Saskatoon. Computer software developer; 38 employees. Supports ongoing employee development with tuition subsidies for courses related and not directly related to their current position.

Auvik Networks Inc., Waterloo, Ont. Computer software; 190 employees. Has transitioned to a “distributed work environment” that financially supports home office set-ups and offers a $100 monthly allowance.

Bandzoogle, Nepean, Ont. Music publishing platform; 41 employees. Lets employees travel and work from anywhere (within practical limits) and offers coverage for additional expenses incurred in their remote set-ups.

Belliveau Veinotte Inc., Bridgewater, N.S. Accounting; 55 employees. Lets employees work from home when they desire and offers temporary desk stations at all of its office locations.

Binary Stream Software Inc., Burnaby, B.C. Computer software; 84 employees. Helps employees plan for the future with retirement planning assistance services, matching RSP contributions and a share purchase plan.

Birchcliff Energy Ltd., Calgary. Natural gas production; 208 employees. Encourages employees to volunteer and support charitable initiatives with paid time off to volunteer, with no set annual maximum.

Black & White Zebra Industries Inc., Vancouver. Public relations agency; 20 employees. Encourages employees to become recruiters for the firm with new employee referral bonuses, up to $1,000 depending on the position.

BluEarth Renewables Inc., Calgary. Renewable power generation; 114 employees. Supports work from home arrangements, from two designated days off-site to fully off-site, determined on a case-by-case basis.

Bluedrop ISM, St. John’s. Software; 50 employees. Offers a flexible hybrid work program that lets employees work wherever is best, offering hoteling workstations at the head office.

BlueStone Properties Inc., London, Ont. Real estate development and management; 67 employees. Offers employees the unique benefit of a 10-per-cent discount on apartment rentals in its company-owned apartment buildings.

Boughton Law Corp., Vancouver. Law firm; 116 employees. Celebrates World Mental Health Day in October and hosts Wellness Wednesdays to provide support and help raise mental health awareness amongst employees.

Broadsign Canada Co., Montreal. Computer systems design; 183 employees. Encourages employees to become recruiters for the firm with new employee referral bonuses, from $2,000 to $5,000 depending on the position.

C3 Solutions Inc., Montreal. Computer software; 48 employees. Offers new parents the opportunity to apply to phase-in their return to work when they’re ready to come back.

Canopy Planet Society, Vancouver. Environmental consulting services; 19 employees. Offers a mental health practitioner’s benefit along with three hours of paid flex time each week for employees to focus on their mental health.

Cardinal Capital Management Inc., Winnipeg. Investment management; 71 employees. Offers employees a generous fitness club subsidy as part of their health plan along with sponsoring employee soccer, rowing and hockey teams.

CBCL Ltd., Halifax. Engineering; 379 employees. Continues to expand, adding almost 30 positions last year, and encourages employees to become recruiters with new employee referral bonuses.

Century Group Lands Corp., New Westminster, B.C. Real estate development and management; 82 employees. Helps employees build long-term savings with a defined contribution pension plan and provides retirement planning assistance.

C.F. Crozier & Associates Inc., Collingwood, Ont. Engineering; 237 employees. Offers a flexible benefits plan to let employees customize coverage to suit their personal needs and includes separate coverage for mental health care.

CHES Special Risk Inc., Toronto. Specialized insurance; 59 employees. Provides compassionate leave top-up to 100 per cent of salary for up to four weeks when employees are called upon to care for a loved one.

CoLab Software, St. John’s. Software; 67 employees. Is a remote-first company that enables employees to set their schedules based on what works best for them and their lives.

Copperleaf Technologies Inc., Vancouver. Specialized computer software; 301 employees. Experienced notable growth in the past year, increasing its full-time workforce by over 25 per cent.

CPCS Transcom Ltd., Ottawa. Transportation consulting; 79 employees. Offers phased-in work options to allow employees nearing retirement to gradually reduce their hours.

Croesus Finansoft, Laval, Que. Financial management software; 180 employees. Offers mentoring and leadership development programs for employees interested in advancing their careers.

Crombie REIT, New Glasgow, N.S. Property management and development; 265 employees. Has a long history of supporting community causes, focusing on organizations that improve social, physical, and mental health.

Crown Property Management Inc., Toronto. Property management; 137 employees. Supports employees who want to start a family with a generous subsidy for IVF treatments if needed, to a lifetime maximum of $18,000.

Dash Hudson, Halifax. Software; 179 employees. Supports employees in their volunteer efforts with paid time off for volunteering as well as offering matching charitable donations.

Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc., Toronto. Architecture; 268 employees. Encourages employees to adopt healthy habits through health challenges organized by the company’s benefits provider, with redeemable points as rewards.

Dixon Mitchell Investment Counsel Inc., Vancouver. Investment management; 33 employees. Provides maternity and parental leave top-up payments (of varying duration) for all new parents, to 90 per cent of salary.

Drone Delivery Canada Corp., Woodbridge, Ont. Drone-based courier services; 53 employees. Encourages ongoing employee development, from paid internships and apprenticeships to formal mentoring and tuition subsidies for courses at outside academic institutions.

Duncan Craig LLP, Edmonton. Law; 96 employees. Considers previous work experience when setting vacation entitlement for new employees, with lawyers starting at four weeks of paid vacation.

Durward Jones Barkwell & Co. LLP, St. Catharines, Ont. Accounting; 123 employees. Supports all employees who want to start a family with maternity and parental leave top-up programs for all new parents.

Eclipsys Solutions Inc., Kanata, Ont. Information technology services; 46 employees. Lets employees share in the company’s successes through a generous year-end bonus program.

ETRO Construction Ltd., Burnaby, B.C. Construction management; 66 employees. Supports employees who get involved with charitable and community initiatives through paid volunteer time (up to two days annually), along with matching charitable donations.

ExperiencePoint Inc., Toronto. Human resources consulting; 54 employees. Supports ongoing employee development through in-house training, along with full tuition subsidies for courses related and not directly related to their current position.

Field Effect Software Inc., Ottawa. Cyber security software; 151 employees. Seeks employee feedback on a range of issues through semi-annual in-house and outside consultant surveys.

Financeit Canada Inc., Toronto. Consumer financing; 241 employees. Starts new employees with three weeks of paid vacation and offers up to six paid personal days to help employees with work-life balance.

FISPAN Services Inc., Vancouver. Software development; 122 employees. Continues to enjoy impressive year-over-year employment growth over the past year, adding over 30 new employees.

Flaman Sales Ltd., Saskatoon. Retail, farm machinery, equipment and home fitness; 434 employees. Encourages employees to enjoy regular social events and activities, including attending local sports games, ski trips, golf tournaments and a sled rally.

Fowler Bauld & Mitchell Ltd. / FBM, Halifax. Architecture; 43 employees. Helps employees balance work and personal life through a range of flexible work options, shortened and compressed work weeks and work from home options.

Fresche Solutions Inc., Montreal. Computer system design; 157 employees. Offers formal hybrid work options along with a unique head office featuring an open loft concept, two full kitchens, natural light and a rooftop terrace.

Fresh Prep Foods Inc., Vancouver. Food processing; 431 employees. Supports all new parents with generous maternity and parental top-up payments, to 100 per cent of salary for up to 24 weeks.

Fuller Landau LLP, Toronto. Accounting; 134 employees. Worked with employees and managers to formalize a hybrid work model that is designed and tailored to meet the needs of each practice area.

Genoa Design International Ltd., Mount Pearl, N.L. Engineering design; 242 employees. Helps employees save for the future with matching RSP contributions.

GeoComply Solutions Inc., Vancouver. Computer systems; 85 employees. Lets employees share in the company’s successes through a generous year-end bonus program that is open to all employees.

Great Little Box Company Ltd., Richmond, B.C. Box manufacturing; 478 employees. Offers a sand volleyball court, horseshoe pit, basketball court, grass area, picnic gazebo area and picnic tables at its head office location.

GSoft, Montreal. Computer software; 400 employees. Maintains an unlimited time-off policy and flexible work policy, enabling eligible employees to work almost anywhere, including outside of Canada, for a maximum of 150 days.

Harbour Air Seaplanes LLP, Richmond, B.C. Air transportation; 243 employees. Reaches out to the next generation of aviators through paid internships and formal apprenticeship programs.

Humania Assurance Inc., Saint-Hyacinthe, Que. Insurance; 202 employees. Lets new parents extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence and offers phased-in return to work options when they’re ready to come back.

Igloo Software, Kitchener, Ont. Software; 127 employees. Supports ongoing professional development with tuition subsidies for courses at outside academic institutions, subsidies for professional accreditation and in-house and online training.

Integrated Sustainability Consultants Ltd., Calgary. Environmental and engineering services; 82 employees. Offers an earned days off program that lets employees work one extra hour each day and earn an additional two days off each month.

InvestorCOM Inc., Brantford, Ont. Computer software; 72 employees. Offers a paid day off to volunteer in the community and takes employee feedback into consideration when determining charitable initiatives to support.

ISA Cybersecurity Inc., Toronto. Computer security; 72 employees. Provides employees with access to a health benefits plan that includes unlimited short-term counselling as well as an additional $1,000 mental health benefit.

Jacob Bros Construction Inc., Surrey, B.C. Construction; 308 employees. Allows employees to provide feedback on which charitable organizations to support and matches employee donations up to $500 per event.

Jayman BUILT, Calgary. Residential housing construction; 197 employees. Encourages employees to keep fit with free access to an onsite fitness facility with treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical trainers, weights and fitness classes.

Johnston Group Inc., Winnipeg. Insurance and group benefits; 337 employees. Keeps the company connected through a regular newsletter and JGTV, featuring messages from the president, fitness classes, and a biweekly Zoom show.

Keystone Environmental Ltd., Burnaby, B.C. Environmental consulting; 109 employees. Invests in ongoing employee development with subsidies for job-related courses and professional accreditation, plus financial bonuses for some course completion.

Larochelle Groupe Conseil Inc., Montreal. Information technology consulting; 128 employees. Offers four weeks of starting vacation allowance and paid sick time of up to seven days per year.

LBMX Inc., London, Ont. Computer software; 74 employees. Offers a $500 home office allowance plus a subsidy to help offset the costs of returning to work, such as parking, public transit and meals.

LeddarTech Inc., Quebec. Sensor technology development; 166 employees. Offers remote work for eligible roles and allows employees to expense up to $1,000 for home office furniture and ergonomic accessories.

Litco Law, Calgary. Law; 123 employees. Maintains an unlimited time-off policy to provide employees with additional flexibility for vacations, personal appointments and family matters.

Loopio Inc., Toronto. Software developer; 203 employees. Increased its full-time workforce by approximately 35 per cent over the past year and offers referral bonuses to encourage employees to recruit friends.

Mawer Investment Management Ltd., Calgary. Financial planning and investment management; 213 employees. Supports an employee committee which organizes events that bring employees together, such as a virtual poker event and a family Halloween celebration.

McDougall Gauley LLP, Saskatoon. Law; 134 employees. Invests in ongoing education with full tuition subsidies for job-related courses as well as subsidies for professional accreditation.

MetOcean Telematics Ltd., Dartmouth, N.S. Communications technology; 88 employees. Offers a matching RSP program and a financial wellness program to provide education on improving long-term financial wellness.

Mistplay Inc., Montreal. Video game developer; 61 employees. Incorporates employee feedback when determining charities to support and matches their generosity dollar-for-dollar to a maximum of $10,000 per employee per year.

More Than Just Feed Inc., Strathmore, Alta. Agriculture; 152 employees. Maintains a charitable focus on initiatives related to agriculture and encourages employee volunteerism with two paid days off to volunteer each year.

Mysa Smart Thermostats, St. John’s. Programmable smart thermostats; 104 employees. Builds recognition into its day-to-day culture through a Master of the Week award, given to an employee who goes above and beyond.

Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP, Ottawa. Law; 110 employees. Provides maternity and parental leave top-up, to 95 per cent of salary for up to 38 weeks for new mothers, and 12 to 20 weeks for new fathers and adoptive parents.

Nicola Wealth Management Ltd., Vancouver. Investment management; 396 employees. Continues to grow at an incredible pace, adding over 100 full-time team members to its workforce in the past year.

Noseworthy Chapman Chartered Professional Accountants, St. John’s. Accounting; 60 employees. Provides matching RSP contributions and offers phased-in work options to allow those nearing retirement to gradually reduce their hours.

Office Interiors, Dartmouth, N.S. Office furniture and equipment; 82 employees. Encourages employees to maintain their well-being, offering a health spending account of up to $500 and separate wellness spending account of $350.

Okane Consultants, Saskatoon. Environmental and engineering services; 49 employees. Provides generous maternity and parental leave top-up, offering 52 weeks of paid leave for new mothers and 35 weeks for fathers and adoptive parents.

Olympia Financial Group Inc., Calgary. Trust, fiduciary and custody activities and related IT services; 241 employees. Maintains a number of onsite amenities including child care, a fitness facility, free snacks and an employee lounge with video games.

Open Farm Inc., Toronto. Pet food manufacturing; 43 employees. Offers a number of financial incentives, including signing bonuses for some employees, year-end bonuses for all and generous referral bonuses.

Osedea Inc., Montreal. Business consulting; 53 employees. Focuses its charitable efforts on initiatives related to youth, diversity, equity and inclusion and mental health, plus matches employee donations dollar-for-dollar.

Payworks Inc., Winnipeg. Payroll services; 378 employees. Experienced notable growth in the past year, expanding its full-time workforce by nearly 60 individuals, an increase of approximately 18.5 per cent.

PBX Engineering Ltd., Vancouver. Engineering; 87 employees. Introduced a new illness, injury and child care policy in the past year to provide up to five paid days off to be used for illness, dependent care and bereavement.

Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP / s.r.l., Ottawa. Law; 110 employees. Hosts wellness seminars on topics such as nutrition, sleep, and meditation, and offers a generous wellness spending account of up to $2,500 per year.

Podium Development Corp., Toronto. Residential housing development; 51 employees. Fosters connection through a variety of virtual and in-person social events, including bi-weekly social Fridays, themed sports, birthday and anniversary celebrations, and axe throwing.

Points.com Inc., Toronto. Customer loyalty program software; 274 employees. Enables employees with more than five years of service to apply for unpaid leaves of up to 12 weeks while continuing to receive benefits, bonuses and accrue vacation.

Prevue HR Systems Inc., Vancouver. Software; 23 employees. Encourages employees to take the necessary time to rest and recuperate with paid sick time off, up to 14 days annually.

ProServeIT Corp., Mississauga. Information technology consulting; 103 employees. Offers professional development for individuals at all stages of their career, including paid internships for graduates and formal mentoring and leadership development programs for experienced individuals.

PSB Boisjoli LLP, Mont-Royal, Que. Accounting; 230 employees. Encourages a hybrid approach to work and adjusted the base salaries of individuals required to work in office to account for the increase in gas prices.

Purpose Unlimited, Toronto. Investment management; 273 employees. Supports a flexible paid time off policy with no set maximums per year; time off can be used for vacation, personal days, illness and bereavement.

Pushor Mitchell LLP, Kelowna, B.C. Law; 122 employees. Maintains a wellness committee that is responsible for organizing health initiatives for the firm and offers 10 paid sick days per year.

Rangle.io, Toronto. Software; 128 employees. Encourages employees to leverage their personal networks to recruit talent, offering referral bonuses of up to $2,000 for successful hires.

RTS Canada, Richmond, B.C. Waste management and recycling; 85 employees. Supports a social and wellness committee that spearheads the organization’s overarching mental health and wellness strategy and maintains a wellness fund to provide monthly disbursements.

Redbrick Technologies Inc., Victoria. Computer software; 81 employees. Adopted a hybrid/remote working model with employees working in-person as needed for meetings and collaborative work.

Reid’s Heritage Construction, Cambridge, Ont. Residential housing developer; 68 employees. Offers paid personal days as well as emergency days to accommodate employees with family commitments, up to 10 days per year total.

R.F. Binnie & Associates Ltd., Burnaby, B.C. Engineering; 253 employees. Introduced a wellness and personal spending account of $700 annually and offers a separate health spending account as part of its benefits plan.

Riva International Inc., Edmonton. Software publishers; 93 employees. Supports employees interested in furthering their education with tuition subsidies for courses taken externally (no annual max) and subsidies for professional accreditation.

R.V. Anderson Associates Ltd., Toronto. Engineering; 381 employees. Supports employees who want to get involved in their local community with paid time off to volunteer, determined on a case-by-case basis.

Sequence Bioinformatics Inc., St. John’s. Biotechnology and data analytics; 42 employees. Cultivates a culture of recognition through the Biobucks program, a redeemable points-based reward system.

Silvacom Group, The, Edmonton. Custom computer software and consulting; 100 employees. Helps employees achieve better work-life balance through a few flexible work options including telecommuting, shortened work weeks and flexible hours.

SilverChef Rentals Inc., Vancouver. Commercial equipment wholesalers; 52 employees. Launched a monthly “Coffee Chats” initiative to pair participants at random with colleagues outside of their department.

Tatham Engineering Ltd., Collingwood, Ont. Engineering; 159 employees. Offers generous referral bonuses for employees to recruit candidates from their personal networks, offering between $2,000 and $5,000 per successful hire.

TealBook Inc., Toronto. Software; 88 employees. Increased its full-time workforce by 125 per cent in the past year and offers a share purchase plan, available to all employees.

Tehama Inc. Ottawa. Software; 65 employees. Supports ongoing employee development with an annual training budget of 3 per cent of salary per employee per year, to a maximum of $5,000.

Thinkific Labs Inc., Vancouver. Online learning software; 479 employees. Supports all pathways to parenthood with coverage for fertility drugs and treatments, to a lifetime maximum of $15,000.

Translational Research In Oncology, Edmonton. Clinical research activities; 138 employees. Starts new employees with three weeks of paid vacation and considers previous work experience when setting vacation entitlements for experienced candidates.

Trialto Wine Group Ltd., Vancouver. Wine wholesale agency; 19 employees. Lets everyone share in the company’s success with profit-sharing and encourages employees to shore up retirement savings with matching RSP contributions.

Trisura Guarantee Insurance Co., Toronto. Insurance; 187 employees. Supports a number of charitable initiatives each year and encourages employees to get involved with paid time off to volunteer.

Uken Inc., Toronto. Game developer; 89 employees. Offers hybrid and remote work options plus free meals, daily fitness classes and an employee lounge with video games for employees when working onsite.

UV Insurance, Drummondville, Que. Insurance; 182 employees. Maintains a workplace health, safety and well-being committee and hosted a conference on health to support employees in making healthy lifestyle decisions.

Validere Technologies Ltd., Toronto. Business consulting; 83 employees. Experienced significant growth, increasing its full-time workforce by over 80 per cent in the past year.

Vega, Burnaby, B.C. Nutritional supplement manufacturing; 131 employees. Recognizes exceptional performance with awards in a variety of categories including lifestyle leadership, unsung hero, the breakthrough award and rookie of the year.

Ventana Construction Corp., Burnaby, B.C. Commercial construction; 173 employees. Keeps employees engaged and connected throughout the year with a number of social events and celebrations, including two kayaking events and a golf tournament.

VERB Interactive Inc., Halifax. Marketing and advertising; 204 employees. Rewards exceptional performance through an employee of the month award, providing recipients with a $1,000 bonus and an engraved trophy.

VeroSource Solutions Inc., Fredericton. Healthcare information technology services; 36 employees. Offers mentoring and leadership development programs for employees interested in advancing in their roles, and supports ongoing education with tuition subsidies.

Vidir Solutions Inc., Arborg, Man. Storage systems; 221 employees. Offers year-end bonuses as well as matching RSP contributions to help employees save for the longer term.

Visier Inc., Vancouver. Software developer; 356 employees. Focuses its charitable efforts on initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as emerging STEM talent.

Wesgroup Equipment LP, Surrey, B.C. Industrial machinery and equipment distribution; 188 employees. Invests in employee education with tuition subsidies for job-related courses as well as subsidies for professional accreditation.

Yulu Public Relations Inc., Vancouver. Public relations; 17 employees. Offers maternity and parental leave top-up for new and adoptive parents plus an emergency child care stipend of $100 a day for five days per year.

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